Oct. 16, 2013
by Sean Brennan
NEW YORK - He was just named the BIG EAST's Preseason Player of the Year and it was only his second ever visit to New York City, but when Creighton's Doug McDermott was asked what he's looking forward to the most in the Bluejays inaugural season in the BIG EAST.
"We're not going to Carbondale, Ill., or Terre Haute, Ind., anymore," McDermott said laughing.
No, when the Bluejays leave Omaha for conference road games this season the destinations will have a considerably higher profile like Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and the Big Apple.
"I think it will be a change for us and a good change," said McDermott, a two-time consensus All-American who averaged 23.2 points and 7.7 rebounds in helping guide Creighton to a 28-8 mark last season. "Growing up I watched the BIG EAST tournament and it was the coolest thing on television. To be able to say now I'm going to be part of that is really cool."
Xavier coach Chris Mack said the move from the Atlantic 10 to its new home in the BIG EAST will be a boon to the school's recruiting efforts.
"The exposure that Xavier is going to gain will be tremendous," Mack said. "We feel that for so many years we've played at a high level. We've been to four of the last six Sweet 16s. But conference affiliation, especially in recruiting, it's like your front porch. If you can't get (recruits) on your front porch you can't get them in your house. For us it's a case of being able to stick our chests out and say we're in one of the best conferences."
Butler has had its share of basketball success and national recognition during its years in the Horizon League and last season in the Atlantic 10. But new Bulldogs coach Brandon Miller said landing in the BIG EAST conference is a home run for the program.
"I think it's a great time to be part of Butler basketball as we join the Big East," Miller said. "You think about the tradition of the teams in the BIG EAST. As a competitor that's what you want to do, play the best teams night in and night out. And being able to play at Madison Square Garden, when you think of the best players to ever play the game, and you ask them where is their favorite place to play, a lot of guys will say the Garden.
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard thinks the league couldn't have found three more perfect programs to join the BIG EAST.
"I think the three teams we added are terrific," Willard said. "I think it expands the league and I think we're going into great cities. We added great cities and great schools. Everyone now has rivals. Everyone has someone they can look at that's similar to them."
"I'll be interesting to see," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "I have great respect for the teams we lost and I'll follow those teams. But I also think when you add new teams it heightens everyone's awareness. I think they're three really good programs, three really good teams."
St. John's coach Steve Lavin sees a renaissance of sorts taking place with the new BIG EAST.
"The old BIG EAST was great (but) I think the new BIG EAST is going to be outstanding," Lavin said. "It will just be different. We have great basketball schools with outstanding coaches and fans that are second to none. It will be a return to our roots but also a new beginning of sorts. I don't think there's any reason we can't get five or six teams into the tournament on a regular basis. It's a perfect marriage and partnership in terms of creating a neighborhood where all the schools look alike."